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An Arizona state judge has ordered officials in Republican-controlled Cochise County to certify their local midterm elections results after they missed the state’s legal deadline and put more than 47,000 people’s votes at risk.
Ruling from the bench at a court hearing on Thursday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley ordered the county’s board of supervisors to meet and make the results officials by 5 p.m. MT Thursday.
The court order comes three days after the board’s two Republican members voted Monday not to certify the results — despite finding no legitimate problems with the counts — turning a usually uneventful step in the election process into a closely watched controversy.
The move prompted multiple lawsuits, including one by the state’s secretary of state, who has been waiting for the county’s results to proceed with the statewide certification that is legally required to take place next week.
“I’ve had enough. I think the public’s had enough,” said the board’s Democratic chair, Ann English, who has supported certifying the results and asked the judge for a “swift resolution.”
The judge said the law is “clear”
Citing state law, McGinley noted it is “clear” that the board was “duty bound” to certify the results and submit them to the secretary of state by Monday given that no results were missing from the county’s totals.
McGinley said the board “exceeded its lawful authority in delaying the canvass for a reason that was not permitted by the statute.”
The Republican county supervisors, Tom Crosby and Peggy Judd, had claimed they wanted to delay the certification out of concerns about the county’s election equipment, which state officials have confirmed were tested and properly certified.
During Thursday’s hearing, however, an attorney representing the challengers of another lawsuit — brought against the board by the nonprofit Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and a Cochise County voter — suggested those were arguments made in bad faith by Crosby and Judd. The attorney referenced comments Judd had made to The New York Times on Monday that the claims about voting machine problems were “the only thing we have to stand on” as a cover for delaying certification in order to protest the local certification of results in Arizona’s Maricopa County.
No attorney was present in the courtroom Thursday to represent the board, which had only approved a last-minute choice of a law firm less than two hours before Thursday’s hearing.
Crosby attempted to ask the judge to delay proceedings until next week in order to give their newly hired attorney time to catch up on the lawsuits, but McGinley rejected the request after finding that waiting is “not in the interest of justice.”
The Arizona secretary of state’s office has been urging the county to complete certification by Thursday in order to avoid causing additional delays to preparations for the statewide certification of midterm election results. State officials have warned of the possible exclusion of the county’s tens of thousands of votes from the official results if they are not certified by the board in time.